On board Vande Bharat Express: The railways have begun work on making 30 more high-speed Train 18 rakes so that high-speed trains could be introduced in more sectors in different parts of the country, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.
A decision will also be taken on making 100 more train rakes in India, he said.
Goyal also said that efforts were on track to get the first Bullet Train in India.
“Going by the experience, comfort and speed of travel, the railways have set in motion the tendering process for making another 30 Train 18 rakes to be made in India,” Goyal told IANS on board the Vande Bharat Express, which was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from New Delhi railway station on Friday morning.
Made in Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, Train 18, renamed Vande Bharat Express, will run five days a week between New Delhi and Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency, a distance of 775 km to be covered in eight hours.
The train, which will have two stops (Kanpur and Allahabad), can touch a maximum speed of 160 km per hour but will run only at 130 kmph in maximum sectors. At present, fast trains Shatabdi and Rajdhani run at under 100 kmph.
Every coach of Train 18 has comfortable seats, GPS passenger information system, CCTV cameras and talkback facility units to connect with the driver in case of emergency.
The coaches have 180-degree rotational reclining chairs, mobile charging points, diffused lighting and reading units. The train also has sensor controlled bathroom fittings for the differently abled people and toilets with bio-discharge vacuum systems.
Goyal said the train has speed, comfort and safety and was an example of ‘Rising India’.
He said more rakes were being ordered through the tendering process so that people in more sectors in different parts of the country can enjoy the era of semi-high speed travel that has begun in India.
With more production and economies of scale, the fares on this train would become cheaper so that more people can enjoy its facilities.
The first rake has been produced at a cost of Rs 97 crore, Goyal said.
Officials said that for the present, Train 18 coaches will only be made at the ICF in Perambur, Chennai.
Goyal took pride in the fact that Train 18 took only 18 months to get produced entirely under the ‘Make in India’ programme pushed by Prime Minister Modi.
It has been designed entirely by Indian engineers and “we are proud of this accomplishment reflecting the growing capabilities of ‘Make in India'”, Goyal said.
Asked about the proposed Bullet Train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the Railway Minister said work was on but he would not set any timeline for its introduction.
To a query about criticism that the Bullet Train was elitist, he said it was sad that the opposition was myopic and short-sighted.
He recalled that even in 1969 when the Rajdhani concept was taken up, there was opposition from the Railway Board Chairman.
About the opposition’s criticism that his interim Budget served only some classes, Goyal hit back by saying the budget addressed the problems of farmers, unorganized workers and salaried class at the bottom of the table.
He also dismissed the criticism that his ‘vote on account’ budget was an ‘account for votes’.
Goyal attacked the interim Budget of P. Chidambaram in 2014 which gave excise duty concessions on high-end SUVs used by the rich.
Instead, Goyal said he had left any changes in taxes for the full budget after the Lok Sabha elections.